Chevron to use recycled water
By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 09/15/2010 03:36:47 PM PDT
Updated: 09/15/2010 03:36:47 PM PDT
The East Bay's latest effort to stretch its water supply lies in $55 million worth of pipes, high-tech filtration equipment, pumps and tanks in Richmond.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District unveiled its new recycled water plant on Chevron land Wednesday after two years of construction. Chevron will use the recycled water, thereby reducing how much fresh water it uses by 3.5 million gallons per day and saving it for community use, officials said.
"Water is too valuable to use just once," said David Williams, the district's wastewater director.
Chevron provided the land and the lion's share of the $55 million construction bill, with some help from a $500,000 state grant. EBMUD, which proposed the idea, will own, operate and maintain the plant.
Treated wastewater from the West County Wastewater District flows through pipes to the recycled water plant. There, the water is further treated through microfiltration and reverse osmosis. Chevron uses the recycled water in its boilers to provide steam to run its refinery. The water is used multiple times before it is treated and released into the Bay. Some water also is used to manufacture fuel.
As EBMUD's largest water customer, the refinery uses about 11 million gallons of water every day. About 4 million gallons of that has been recycled water coming from the North Richmond Water Reclamation Plant, said Brent Tippen, refinery spokesman. With the new plant up and running, the amount of recycled water the refinery uses will climb to 7.5 million gallons. That would be enough to serve more than 46,000 residents.
It also provides the refinery with a guaranteed water source to keep the refinery running when the next drought strikes, said Mike Coyle, refinery general manager. And it means the refinery will save energy in the production of steam.
A drought from 2007 to 2009 had EBMUD calling on customers to conserve water. Water rationing was called off in April as snowfall in the central Sierra watershed returned to near-normal levels.
"We saw what kind of devastating effect a drought has," Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said. "That tells us we need to use water as wisely and smartly as possible. To use water multiple times is one of the smartest things we can do."
EBMUD has at least three other recycled water plants on its turf. This latest facility at Chevron is more advanced and churns out higher quality water, said Alice Towey, EBMUD engineer.
Katherine Tam covers Richmond. Follow her at Twitter.com/katherinetam.